Roger Beck, a 1959 graduate of Ridgeville High School, wrote in to report the death of Bishop Eirenaios, a leader of the Greek Orthodox Church of Crete and a longtime partner with the Mennonite Central Committee.
The bishop died April 30 at the age of 101.
Beck was an MCC volunteer who served two terms in Crete; he estimated about half a dozen other Archbold area volunteers served there.
In 1960, Eirenaios invited MCC to establish a presence on Crete. MCC first started a technical school on the island, then later, a full-scale agricultural development center.
At its peak, 10 MCC volunteers from North America and Europe worked at the center.
Beck said he went to Crete as a volunteer in 1964; the MCC operation there lasted through 1975.
He said Eirenaios made a profound impression on him.
Beck did not have a bachelor’s degree at the time, but after meeting and working with the bishop, “I realized I needed more education, so I went back and finished my bachelor’s degree at Goshen College down the road.”
Beck was working towards a master’s degree at Ohio State University when he received a call to go back to Greece, where he served as a director of a development program.
Beck returned to the U.S., completed master’s and doccompiled torate degree programs at Penn State, then went on to a career as a college professor.
Retired, Beck has started a small consulting firm. He resides in Las Cruces, N.M.
S. Roy Kaufman, Freeman, S.D., an MCC alumnus, wrote, “Most of the Mennonites who came to Crete were young men from the farm with some agricultural training. Few knew much if anything about the Greek Orthodox Church.
“Yet none of those who worked there escaped being named by the bishop, and all were introduced to the rich cultural, liturgical and theological tradition that has so profoundly shaped the rural villages of Crete since the church was established there by Paul’s commission to Titus (Titus 1:5).
“Bishop Eirenaios was truly one of the most significant and charismatic partners MCC has ever had.”